- Yoshie Akiba
California State University, East Bay
Yoshie Akiba is an internationally recognized cultural visionary and community leader who has made significant and sustained contributions to her profession and enhanced the quality of life for the surrounding community and beyond.
Born and raised in Yokohama, Japan, Ms. Akiba came to the United States at age 19, studying dance and music at the Peabody Music Conservatory. After receiving a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, she earned a master's of fine arts degree in dance therapy and performing arts from Mills College.
A Bay Area resident since the 1970s, Ms. Akiba dreamed of reconnecting with the culture of Japan. She and her partners opened a successful Japanese restaurant in Berkeley and then moved to a larger location in Oakland, adding a jazz club and dance floor. Today, there are two internationally renowned Yoshi's jazz nightclubs, in Oakland and San Francisco. Music legends Betty Carter, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Branford Marsalis and Oscar Peterson have performed at Yoshi's, raising the profile of jazz in the Bay Area.
Ms. Akiba has demonstrated a dedication to community involvement including the field of education. In 2011, she co-founded 51Oakland, a nonprofit organization that promotes educational, artistic and musical opportunities for Oakland's youth. Ms. Akiba also serves on the board of directors at U.C. Berkeley International House, as a former resident from her college years. Both Yoshi's nightclubs routinely provide fundraising opportunities for performing arts departments in Bay Area schools and colleges.
At Cal State East Bay, Ms. Akiba has been involved with the campus, including instructing students in the tradition of Japanese tea ceremonies. For more than 14 years, Yoshi's has sponsored "A Night of Jazz" scholarship fundraiser that features student musicians performing with prominent jazz artists. This important event is the highlight of the Cal State East Bay music department's annual performance calendar, with all proceeds going towards the music scholarship and special events fund. Locally, Ms. Akiba offers free meditation instruction and Japanese cultural presentations to schools.
In recognition of her significant and sustained contributions to the music industry and her commitment and service to her community, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, East Bay are proud to confer upon Yoshie Akiba the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.